Robert Tanitch reviews the latest DVDs
The Oscar winners are always eagerly awaited but voting is never easy.
My guess is that everybody will agree that Frances McDormand in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri should have won the Award for Best Actress.
But is Sam Rockwell’s performance better than Woody Harrelson’s in the same film?
I think everybody will agree that Dunkirk deserved Oscars for best editing and sound.
Call Me by Your Name (Sony). Summer 1983. A villa in Northern Italy. A precocious multi-lingual, extremely intelligent 17-year-old (Timothée Chalamet) and his father’s handsome 24-year-old academic intern researcher (Armie Hammer) have a romantic relationship. But who is going to make the first move? Who is seducing who? Who is the most vulnerable? The seduction is mutual and consensual. The film, tender, languorous, tactful, warm-hearted, gently erotic and sensitively acted, is based on a novel by André Aciman and directed with great emotional subtlety by Luca Guadagnino. Chalamet is excellent. The boy’s pain is for real and his father (Michael Stuhlbarg), a professor of antiquity, has a fine and comforting carpe diem speech, giving his full parental approval.
The Shape of Water (Fox Searchlight) is a classy superior monster beauty and the beast fantasy set in the 1960s written and directed by Guillermo del Toro with skill. Two outcasts find happiness. A mute (Sally Hawkins), who likes old Hollywood musicals and works as a cleaner in a strange and dubious science laboratory, falls in love with a sea-monster (Doug Jones) who is kept in a huge water tub. She helps him escape. She takes him home and they have a bath together. She assures her best friend (Octavia Spencer) that they had sex too. Michael Shannon is the baddie.
Last Flag Flying (Curzon) Richard Linklater directs a well-acted sequel/companion piece to The Last Detail. Three Vietnam War veterans meet up. One of them (Steve Carell) has lost his 19-year-old son, killed in Iraq and wants the other two, a barman (Bryan Cranston) and a Baptist minister (Laurence Fishburne) to accompany him to collect the body and bury him not in the national military cemetery at Arlington but in the family grave in his hometown. They travel by car, truck and train accompanied by a young soldier (J. Quinton Johnson), the dead boy’s best friend. Cranston has the loudest mouth when it comes to joshing and sticking his oar in and irritating.
The Killing of the Sacred Deer (Curzon) is a psychological thriller, a story of revenge. If you have seen Yorgos Lanthimos’s previous films (Lobster. for instance) you will know that you will be in for something unusual and dark and uncomfortable. Iphigenia. A man dies on the operating table. His teenage son holds the negligent surgeon (Colin Farrell) responsible and warns him that unless he kills one member of his family, his wife (Nicole Kidman) and two children will all die horribly deaths. Barry Keoghan is good casting for the weird 16-year-old. Thimios Bakatakis’s photography is constantly arresting in its angles and framing. The soundtrack is also something special. The title refers to Euripides’s play, Iphigenia in Taurus: the only way Agamemnon could placate the goddess Artemis for his accidentally killing the deer was by sacrificing his daughter.